The counts of the Degenfeld family played a significant role in Royal Hungary. Their history goes back to Switzerland, but Miksa Degenfeld from the Swabian branch of the blue-blooded family moved to Hungary, more precisely to Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca in today’s Romania) as the result of his marriage at the very beginning of the 1800s. His descendants lived in the Erdőszád Castle (Ardusat, also located in Romania today) until 1944. After the Second World War, the castle was demolished and used as construction material by the villagers, so there is no trace left of the once wonderful building. Imre (1810-1883), one of the three children of the above-mentioned Miksa Degenfeld (1766-1816) was one of the most influential landlords in Tokaj as early as the 1850s and also one of the founding members of the Tokaj-Hegyalja Winemakers Society established in 1857. Later, under Communism, the family’s property was nationalised and aristocratic titles were abolished in Hungary. The family history continued in Hungary with another Degenfeld, named Pál (1814-1880), whose offspring lived in Ardusat, Transylvania, and who were returned their lands in Tokaj as compensation for their lost lands in Hungary in the 1990s. Pál’s great-great grandson, Sándor, and his great-granddaughter, Mária, bought the almost 100-hectare estate and the ancient cellar together with the former viticultural school on the edge of Tarcal. This latter building today houses the Castle Hotel and welcomes lovers of Tokaji wines.
Now that you know something about the history of the estate, let’s see what you can find in Tarcal today if you visit the Degenfeld Estate. Currently 35 hectares of the 100 are occupied by the vineyard itself, with a significant part (10 hectares) in a first-class location on Terézia Hill. It is a wonderful area located directly next to the legendary Mézesmály. Strolling in the vineyard, it is easy to spot the renovated Roman Catholic chapel on the top of the hill which boasts a magnificent view over the surrounding landscape, vineyards and town of Szerencs. At the bottom of the hill, you can find the four-star Degenfeld Castle Hotel and Winery, the modern processing plant and the ancient cellar. As most the soil here is loess, the wines are also generally lighter with rounder acidity. The winery is managed by Miklós Stumpf, led by István Varkoly, viticulturist, and Sándor Zsurki, oenologist. Just one of these three names in itself would be a guarantee of high quality, not to mention all three together. As the winemaker joined the Degenfeld team only six months ago, we can hardly wait for the first results of their collaboration. As regards wine tourists and the Castle Hotel, the rooms are probably the most elegant you can find in the wine region, and you can not only walk but even play tennis in the shade of the trees or cool down in the swimming pool next to the castle. The restaurant uses mostly local ingredients. The parlour and the library offer a great opportunity to relax and work, and the paintings, including a wonderful portrait of Gyula Batthyány, afford visual satisfaction as well. If you are in the neighbourhood, don’t miss paying a visit to Degenfeld Winery and Castle Hotel.
Muscat Blanc 2015 I 84-86 points
On the nose, gooseberry, green banana and flowers. Clean, elegant, fresh and taut, with flavours mainly of flowers and citrus fruit. Easy drinking, young wine.
Furmint 2015 I 82-84 points
Restrained and elegant nose with a little chalk and citrus fruit. On the palate, a cool, elegant character, with green apple and citrus fruit. Tonic bitterness on the finish.
Zomborka Furmint 2015 I 87-89 points
On the nose, intense oaky notes, with anise and mint, pear and apricot and plenty of vanilla. Full bodied and complex with attractive acidity, taut tannins, plasticine, oaky notes and apricot. Long finish and plenty of promise.
Terézia Hárs 2015 I 86-88 points
On the nose, lychee and linden blossom, on the palate, tropical fruit, citrus, chalk and flowers. Lovely acidity, an elegant wine which is also very easy drinking.
Terézia Hárs 2014 I 81-83 points
Nose feels raw with a lot of wood, minerality and a fibrous, lean structure. The acidity almost sparkles too. On the palate, plenty of citrus, a little apple and barrel spices. Some brittle on the finish.
Terézia Hárs 2012 I 83-85 points
Lovely ripe fruit, flowers and sweet spices on the nose. Full body and rounded acidity. On the palate, oriental spices, tobacco and apple. The acidity feels stronger on the finish, with citrus fruit and a little brittle.
Late Harvest Furmint 2013 I 89-91 points
A touch of botrytis, plenty of citrus fruit, a little honey, flowers and plasticine on the nose. Lively, vibrant acidity and taut structure with dried fruit and citrus. Taut, clean and very long.
Andante 2013 I 92-94 points
Rich nose with plenty of botrytis, ripe and dried fruit, musk, mushroom and oriental spices. Full bodied and mouth filling, with lively acidity and complexity of flavours. Delightful and infinite!
6p aszú 2008 I 94-96 points
On the nose, rosehip, overripe peach, dried apricot, anise, mint, citrus fruits, clove and a little Darjeeling tea. Full bodied with super acidity, good balance and lovely tannins. The palate mirrors the nose. Endless.